7 Things NOT To Do During Labor
What Not to do During Labor | Baby Chick

By Nina Spears

The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®

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Nina Spears is the Co-Founder & CEO of Baby Chick, an online go-to resource for all things motherhood and the Founder & CEO of Bassett Baby Planning, the premier doula agency and resource center in Houston, TX for expecting and new mothers. Read More

There are so many different blog posts and classes out there that teach you what you SHOULD be doing during early labor, active labor, transition, and pushing (including my own blog posts), but sometimes it’s nice to know the things that you should NOT be doing so you can really avoid some unnecessary interventions and outcomes. Here are my 8 tips on what expecting mamas should NOT do during labor.

1. Do NOT Over Exert Yourself

So many women get super excited as soon as they start feeling those first contractions. They want to jump up and get things going! I don’t blame them, but what they don’t know is that resting is just as important as movement when things really get started. Yes, being upright and frequently changing positions helps with your comfort and promotes better positioning of the baby (which can in turn help speed things up), but periods of rest are equally as important. Since labor can take many hours and sometimes days, you don’t want to burn out before you can reach the end. This is why resting in between periods of activity is the best thing to do for your mind and body.

2. Do NOT Get to the Hospital Too Soon

That is, if you are having your baby at the hospital… If you’re having your baby at home, no worries! If you are having your baby at a birth center, you don’t want to get there too early either since you can get sent home. But if you are having your baby at a hospital, you definitely don’t want to get there too soon.

You want to wait as long as you can while in active labor before you start driving to the hospital. Why? If you get there too soon, the hospital staff may send you back home, which is pretty frustrating to go back and forth. (I’ve heard of families being sent back home three times before they finally got admitted!) But even worse, the hospital could keep you there even when it’s too early for you to stay and they could decide to give you pitocin or break your water to help speed up the labor process. And if you have been reading my posts, you all know that doing these things too early in labor tremendously increase your chances of having a c-section. (Unfortunately, I have had a few clients that have had this happen to them so I can speak from experience. Read why you don’t want to be induced.) So make sure that you don’t get to the hospital too soon so you can avoid being sent home as well as avoid some unnecessary interventions.

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3. Do NOT Feel Stuck

When you’re in labor, don’t feel like you have to stay in one position (unless you want to). Sometimes the hospital staff will want you to stay in the bed in a certain position because they want a good, continuous reading of your baby’s heart-rate all throughout labor. That can be incredibly uncomfortable for you and can cause your labor to become more painful and can even cause your labor to stall out. If you want to move into another position because you’re uncomfortable, go for it! It’s your body and your labor so listen to your instincts and do what feels best. The nurses will be able to work around you and keep moving the monitor until they have your baby back on the monitor.

4. Do NOT Hyperventilate or Hold Your Breath

You might think that breathing should come naturally during labor and shouldn’t be something that you have to think about. I mean you breathe in and out all day every day so what’s to think about, right? Unfortunately, that is (most of the time) untrue when it comes to labor. During labor, some mothers can get really worked up and freaked out which cause them to over-breathe or breathe too rapidly, which then  can cause dizziness, numbness and tingling of the hands, feet, and/or face, and even fainting. The type of breathing that you want to do is abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing is beneficial because it helps with relaxation and stress relief, it oxygenates deep tissues, and it strengthens the diaphragm.

You also want to make sure that you aren’t holding your breath during labor. The oxygen that you are breathing in is also giving oxygen to your baby. If you hold your breath, your baby’s heart-rate can start plummeting which will then cause your medical team to panic and want to get baby out immediately. We all just need to calm down and breathe. Those big deep breaths are the best thing for you and your baby. And proper breathing helps you manage the stress, provides the best oxygenation for both you and your baby, and it prepares your diaphragm to get ready for pushing a baby out.

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5. Do NOT Look at the Clock

If a laboring mama has decided to have a natural birth, she can be so focused on her breathing, relaxing her muscles and everything that she’s doing to progress that she might not even pay attention to the clock. (Which is good!) If a laboring mom has decided to have an epidural, she can be taking a nap or be talking to her friends and family or watching a movie that she doesn’t even think to look at the clock. (Which is also good!) However, if you’re wondering why things are taking so long (whether you have an epidural or not), it never helps to look at a clock. Looking at the clock will only discourage you. If it’s only been a few minutes and you thought it was an hour or more you could get pretty upset that baby isn’t here yet. So don’t look at the clock. Baby will be here soon.

6. Do NOT Be Bullied

You should NEVER feel like you are being bullied during your labor and baby’s birth. If anyone is trying to push you to do something that you don’t want to do or is making you feel rushed or uncomfortable, or if they are being unsupportive of your wants and needs, stand up for yourself! As I always say, this is your body, this is your baby, and this is your experience. YOU are paying the facility fees and the people around you so you should only be treated with kindness and respect. You’re the boss! The customer is always right, right?! And you should feel happy about your experience because these moments will live with you forever so don’t settle for anything less.

Note: If you do not like your nurse or the doctor on-call taking care of you, you can always have your partner go talk to the nurse’s station, speak to the charge nurse and get a new nurse and/or a new doctor. Don’t feel bad about it! They should feel bad that they aren’t giving you the supportive experience that you deserve! And if you do not feel like you will have the strength to advocate for yourself, look into hiring a doula.

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7. Do NOT Fight the Process

I’ve had clients that have completely rocked their labor and baby’s birth. Watching them go through their birth experience so seamlessly made me question what they were doing different compared to other women that I have worked with that have struggled. When I asked what they were telling themselves during their labors, they said, “I kept telling myself to surrender my body to the experience and allow the labor to open my body and not fight the process. I wanted my labor to be quick so I let my body do what it needed to do.” Powerful.

In labor you will get cues from you body; pay attention to them. If a new position doesn’t feel right to you still after a few contractions, change positions. If you feel like you need to rest, rest. If you feel like touch, massage, or a bath will help you get through things, ask for it. If you feel an overwhelming urge to do something, go do it. Just remember to remain confident in your ability to do this because you can do it. Don’t fight it! You got this, mama!

Are there any other tips of what not to do that you would like to share? Share in the comments below! 🙂


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26 thoughts on “7 Things NOT To Do During Labor

  1. Do not have too many people in the room with you during labor. It will cause you to stress for no reason. I know from experience with my son.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you were stressed during your son’s birth. 🙁 You are definitely not the only one who has felt like that. I’ve had lots of mamas say they felt like they were in a fish bowl being watched with too many people in their labor and delivery room. It totally can add an extra level of stress. You are not alone. Thank you for sharing your story, Courtney! Hopefully other mamas will take your advice.

    2. Oh my goodness, I cannot express the importance of this one enough! I’m a labor nurse, and far too often we have these first time mammas bring 5+ people to their MIDNIGHT induction that has to start with cervical ripening medication. NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN FOR AT LEAST 12 hours! But there they are talking and staring at mom keeping her from resting. And for patient satisfaction, GOD FORBID we kick them out!

    3. Amen to that, Jackie!! I’m surprised you don’t let them know that nothing will happen for the next 12 hours and they should go home and get some rest. (I’m sure you do though!!) I wish mamas were told this before the induction process starts so family wouldn’t waste their time coming in and keeping mama up for hours. Oh well!
      Thanks for sharing/commenting and thank you for the awesome work that you do. Nurses are never thanked enough!!!

  2. Just had my second son.
    First one was natural and second was epidural. I don’t know what was “wrong” with the epidural but I was definitely not able to talk, take a nap, or watch a movie. I feel like it just took a slight edge off the contractions but they were still stop me in my tracks strong.

    1. The same thing happened to me. I had an epidural when I was dilated to 8…. it never did work. I dont understand. What could’ve been the problem?

    2. That’s so frustrating, Samantha. With anesthesia, it’s never a guarantee. There are so many factors that could have led it to not work. Maybe you have a curvature in your back, maybe your doctor didn’t place your epidural in the right space, maybe your doctor doesn’t have as much experience, etc. Hopefully next time it will work.

    3. Epidural’s work on pain receptors not pressure receptors. So when you get an epidural later in the stages of labor the contractions should be less intense, but you WON’T stop, feeling that pressure (baby coming lower in your pelvis) until you have the baby. Plus when you are ready to push it helps to know when your contracting to coordinate your push efforts. So you will have THE most pain relief when you first get your epidural and the Dr. Gives a loading bolus of medicine. The epidural pump continues to give you medicine just at a lower rate then that initial Dr. Bolus. It also works by gravity so if one side is less numb lay so that side is down and hit your button to get a little extra bolus. Or have your nurse call anesthesia to redose you.

  3. I recommend to just relax and let the process work. If you have a birth plan let your doctor and nurses know.. I asked after I got my epidural to only have my partner in the room till it was time to push, so I could relax! I went from a 3 to and 10 in an hour my body was relaxed and then I called my mom to the room and had my beautiful little girl!

  4. Try to relax so your muscles relax because if you tense up your muscles tense up including the ones where you want to open up for your baby to come down and out. If you tense up and those muscles tense up it prolongs your labor. Relax and rest as much as possible so you have the energy when you need it. The Lord made our bodies to do what they need to do during the birthing process. Time your contractions first before rushing to the hospital. Once they are regular, call your doctor and then they will help you decide when to come when the contractions are so many minutes apart so you are not sent back home which is hugely frustrating which is not what you need.

  5. I don’t agree with the “don’t get to the hospital too early”. Don’t get to the hospital too late either. I was 9 cm dialated when I got to the hospital and had my daughter within 40 minutes. The experience was rather traumatic for me and I wish I’d gotten there earlier.

    1. Wow! I can totally understand that, Frieda. I’m really speaking more towards families (that I have personally helped) that wanted to go to the hospital too soon and we ended up being there for days. Usually scenarios like that don’t end the way the family wants them to. This is why I normally recommend that they wait longer because labor (most of the time) takes a while. If you get there too soon, medical staff normally will push other interventions after some time has passed and that can cause the family to have a negative experience and result. However, I have had families that labor really quickly and when I recognize signs that labor is progressing fast, absolutely – it’s a good idea to head right over! We don’t want your baby to be born in the car. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. Prepare your birth plan/ideas of how you want thigs to go but be flexible and do not panic if things don’t go according to plan. I had planned to get an epidural but my baby was coming way too quickly so I didn’t get it. Obviously
    I went into panic mode as this was my first and I wasn’t in favor of the pain factor. It was awful, BUT, I realized if I had stayed a little calmer and trusted my body and my instincts, I probably would’ve stressed myself, my doctor and my husband out a LOT less!

    1. I totally agree with you, Jenilee. You never know what will happen! Labor and birth are so unpredictable. I always tell the families that I work with that a birth plan should really be called “birthing goals” because a lot of times things don’t go according to plan.
      Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on your little one!! xoxo

  7. I definitely learned that speaking up is SO important. Really, I needed to be told that it’s totally okay to yell at anyone and everyone.

    Weeks ahead of time my husband and I wrote a birth plan together. I told him that the only people I wanted in the room during the pushing was my mom and him. He expressed wanting his parents to be a part of it, and I told him they could come in just after.
    Low and behold they come wandering in just after pushing. Dad, mom …. And grandma.
    Everyone peers over at my completely open vagina and makes comments. 90-year-old grandma says “wow.. So much hair” little did I know she was actually talking about the baby, not me.
    I quietly ask my husband to have them leave because I’m having a hard time concentrating and he passes me off by saying “they want to be here, so they need to stay”
    I was horrified. And stuck. And angry.

    But I calmly proceeded because I didn’t want anything to ruin my sons birth.

    Then he starts to crown and dad in-law jumps up with his cell phone taking a video. I calmly tell him that I don’t want any video (another thing my husband and I decided ahead of time)
    Instead of putting away his freaking phone he argues “oh it’s okay, you can’t see much”

    I should have screamed. I should have put my foot down. But I stayed quiet and the resentment has grown over the months.

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that, Justinna. Stories like yours makes my heart sink and makes me wish I or someone could have been there to help you, to have been your voice, and tell people “no” and to stop. You were having a baby. You shouldn’t have to advocate for yourself. People should have respected your wishes and not push their own wants on your birth experience.
      I really appreciate you sharing your story letting other women know that they can speak up for themselves. You only have one opportunity to have your baby and the experience should be everything that you want it to be.
      I hope that things get better and that you get the opportunity to talk to your family about it. And if you decide to have another baby, you know exactly what you want and how to make sure it happens.
      Congratulations, by the way, on your little one!! xoxo

  8. With my first son, I made my plan clear. ABSOLUTLEY NO EPIDURAL!! However, after 24 hours of labor, the doctors and nurses kept trying to push the epidural on me. My mom was my support person, as I was doing this birth on my own, and she told them to stop asking. She told them that I had made my plan clear, but also did not want to feel stuck in the bed. After that, they stopped pushing. I also had a nurse who was continuously in my face in the labor room and in delivery room. The doctors finally removed her when they saw how upset she was making me. After 36 hours of labor, and an hour and a half of pushing, I had a sweet 6 pound 15 ounce baby boy

    1. Oh my goodness, Kristin. Thank goodness that you had your mom there to advocate for you and keep you comfortable. And good for you for standing up for yourself so that you could have the experience that you wanted. So happy for you! I really wish that medical staff would just listen to their patients and not push options that you did not want. That always frustrates me when I see nurses doing that to women. I’m just glad to hear that you had your baby boy the way you wanted. 🙂 And congratulations on the birth of your son!! So exciting!

  9. Yes to the not having a lot of people in the room!! My first child, my parents were out of town during labor, so to compensate they sent almost all their friends up there to support, which was great but I did not feel comfortable with them in there. They had to induce me and there were complications, so I was drugged up and couldn’t really voice my opinion. I was so mad at my husband for not speaking up for me! My 3rd is due in about a month, and I put in bold red letters on my birth plan that only my husband and I are allowed in that room!

  10. I had a lot of people in the room with me when I was just laboring, and we got lots of compliments on how well behaved and nice everyone was. It was just me and my husband in the room when it was time to start pushing, so everyone else was in the waiting room. I would say if they’re not stressing you out, have as many people in there as you want. Just make sure they’re out of the nurse’s/doctor’s way.

  11. I had my daughter within 10 minutes of arriving at the hospital. They had gotten my IV in but not taped and secure when she made her grand appearance. They didn’t even have time to realize she was breech till she came out butt first with her little feet beside her ears. Alot of bad possibilities there. Thankfully we were meant to have her. She had no lasting effects of the birthing experiance. I feel better to be early than late!

  12. Do not distract yourself with social media, or read other mothers labor horror stories, and if you’re in labour for 5 days straight make sure you bring a phone charger and snacks. also don’t overwhelm yourself with visitors the first 24 hours of your child’s birth…

  13. Do NOT worry about pooping! Doctors don’t care and it gets cleaned up so fast that chances are you’ll never even know you did it! Besides, it just means you’re pushing right 🙂

    1. I needed to read this. Probably my biggest fear lol

  14. I have to say that while a doula is great to have (I am one myself) she can’t and shouldn’t advocate FOR you. A good doula will facilitate conversations between mothers and doctors and encourage couples to advocate for themselves.

  15. While medically safe, I totally agree without standing up for yourself. With my first child, they told me not to push after I had transitioned. The reason being that I wasn’t completely dismayed and they didn’t want me to bruise my cervix. The pain of holding back was as bad as him crowning!! (I chose not to have pain relief.) I recently had my second baby. This time I was 9 1/2 cm. dialated. They told me not to push because the doctor wasn’t in the room yet. This time I said, “I’m pushing! I told myself I would push!” There was no way I’d let them make me go through that again. Especially without a good reason. I figured someone would catch, lol!

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